President Donald Trump was given PowerPoint presentations intended to debunk his inaccurate beliefs that Amazon was dodging taxes and abusing the U.S. Postal Service -- he just chose to ignore them.
Early in his administration, White House officials arranged private Oval Office briefings so he could speak more knowledgeably about Amazon after hearing him make false claims about the online retailer, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Gary Cohn, then his chief economic adviser, and other officials tried to bring Trump up to speed on the topic, but to their dismay, he continued making the same inaccurate complaints about Amazon's tax and shipping payments.
“It’s not the narrative he wants,” said one person familiar with the matter. “He clearly didn’t find it persuasive because he keeps saying it’s untrue.”
Sources close to the White House told the Journal that Trump was personally angry with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos because he also owns the Washington Post -- whose coverage the president sees as unfairly critical of him and his administration.
Those sources say Trump is attacking Amazon as a proxy for the Washington Post and Bezos.
Publisher Frederick J. Ryan Jr. said Thursday that Bezos has "never proposed a story" and plays no role in the newspaper's coverage.
“Jeff has never intervened in a story," Ryan said. "He’s never critiqued a story. He’s not directed or proposed editorials or endorsements."
Trump has renewed his attacks on Amazon this week, and his aides again have tried to gently point out his complaints might be "missing the point," according to a White House official.
However, that has prompted Trump to continue "digging in," the official said.
One person who speaks regularly to the president said his complaints about Amazon were directly related to Post coverage.
"(Trump) talked about the fact that the Washington Post is solely owned by Jeff Bezos and (Bezos) is using that same entity to take on the president and the administration,” the source said.
Another person close to the White House confirmed that source's claim.
“Every time there was a bad story (Amazon) would come up,” that person said.